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Competitive Spirit

Final Cheer: Moniteau Competitive Spirit Team Fares Well at Nationals, Bonds During Long Delay Returning Home

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Squeezed into their seats, wedged inside an airplane grounded on the tarmac at Orlando International Airport, the members of the Moniteau competitive spirit team welcomed the delay.

While travelers around them groused about the wait that hit an hour, then two and then finally three, the Warriors weren’t upset.

It gave them time to soak in what they had accomplished this season.

“It was good bonding time,” said senior Shayla Nagy, smiling. “We were all sitting together, talking. Every time they told us there’d be another delay, it was a different reason, but it was kind of nice because it made our season feel like it wasn’t going to ever end.”

There was good reason why the Warriors wanted the season to go on and on and on — much like the delay on the plane.

Moniteau turned in a historic campaign, winning the District 9 Class 2A Small Varsity division for the fourth consecutive year, placing third at the PIAA championships and wrapping this up last weekend with a strong showing at the High School Spirit Nationals at Disney in Orlando.

The Warriors made it to the semifinals and eventually finished 25th in the nation.

“It was pretty impressive for such a small school in a small town,” Nagy said. “We had such big goals, and we wanted to make our hometown proud. I think we did that, and that made us pretty successful. It feels really good.”

Moniteau turned it some of its best and cleanest performances of the season during the two-day competition.

Junior Rylee Long also felt confident enough to try a stunt she hadn’t dared to do all year.

Long, a talented tumbler, hadn’t attempted a full rotation in the air before — until the national competition.

And she stuck it.

“I didn’t even try it warming up — I didn’t even know if I was gonna do it,” Long said. “My personal goal was to try and throw my full, and I did it. It was really scary, but I felt like if I did it, then it would make the team happy and my coaches happy.”

Long said placing 25th in the nation wasn’t the barometer they were going to use to gauge their success.

When it came down to it, they just wanted to perform at their best, she said.

“What we really only wanted was to hit our stunts,” Long said. “We’re so happy with where we got because we already achieved our other goals.”

Coach Melissa DeMatteis said whatever happened at nationals was gravy for this team.

Winning the district and faring well at the state level was most important in their eyes.

“Overall, we had a pretty successful season and we wanted to end it with no regrets,” DeMatteis said. “We worked very hard perfecting our routine and knew we needed to execute those skills to perfection in order to compete with the best in the nation.

“We are beyond thrilled with the outcome,” she added. “This has been an amazing year.”

It was also amazing for junior Molly Grossman, who said her team rose to the challenge in the postseason.

“We did our best when it counted the most,” Grossman said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”

It was also a season of vindication for the team.

Last year was largely a forgettable one. COVID-19 wreaked havoc with the team and the performances suffered. The Warriors won the district, but the state competition was ripe with disappointment.

“We needed to have a good season after what happened last year,” Grossman said. “It made us forget last year. Never happened. Now we can remember the good season we have and be happy and proud.”